The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Views From Abroad: The U.S. Elections and Iran

by Toni Johnson
February 17, 2012

Beijing's National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, July 3, 2009. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters) Beijing's National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, July 3, 2009. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

This week we have a roundup of articles from several countries. We will start with China, a country that has fueled domestic coverage in the past couple of days with Vice President Xi Jinping’s U.S. visit.

In China Daily, Li Guofu, a leading Middle East expert in Beijing, looks at how the U.S. election is playing out in ongoing tensions with Iran. He notes that neither side has uttered the word “war”:

This shows the main cause of the tension is not Iran’s nuclear program but the domestic politics of the US, especially the 2012 elections, in which not only the president but also members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senators will be elected.

Democrats and Republicans take on each other to garner the support of voters, of which the Jewish lobby is an important part. Traditionally, American Jews have supported the Democrats. But this time, they seem unhappy with Obama, whose new approach to deal with Iran and solve the Palestinian problem has been opposed by the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel.

This presents Republicans the chance of winning over the Jewish lobby to their side, and the scramble to do so is on.

In the Buenos Aires Herald, Patricio Navia discusses Republican candidates’ move to right-of-center in the primary season and how the Bush era is still affecting party policies:

The George W. Bush presidency still evokes divisive memories in the Republican Party. The legacy of the early compassionate Republican who left office in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the great depression divides the GOP. The fiscal indiscipline that produced the enormous deficit is regarded as one of the worst aspects of the Bush legacy. On the other hand, most Republicans support the tax reduction policies championed by the former President and defend the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The contradiction between favouring additional spending to fund two wars, advocating for tax cuts and criticizing fiscal imbalances might be apparent to many independents, but not to hardcore Republicans who have actively participated in the nine primaries and caucuses held so far, supporting the most conservative positions.

In Germany’s Die Welt, Ansgar Graw assesses the high and lows of President Obama’s foreign policy:

At the beginning, it was all about promises.

One day, a world without nuclear weapons – Barack Obama had barely moved into the White House when he promised that. Tensions with Russia would be taken care of with a push of the “reset” button. He would personally give new impetus to the Middle East peace talks. Obama extended a hand to the Muslim world in general, and Iran in particular. Iraq, Afghanistan, the rise of China: no challenge seemed too big for the young commander-in-chief. For every problem, there was a practical solution.

Three years after Obama took office, the talk is no longer about nuclear disarmament, but possible military strikes against Iran. Russia’s accusations against the U.S. — that the latter is enflaming the opposition in Russia — is reminiscent of Cold War rhetoric. The Ice Age has hit the Middle East. There have been clear setbacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Some are even placing the whole global context in terms of the decline of the United States as a superpower, to be supplanted by China.

 

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